Zito, Johnson looking to rebound

2003 was not a year good year for lefthanded pitchers like Randy Johnson and Barry Zito.

Updated: March 22, 2004, 9:06 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Writing in the Toronto Star today, Geoff Baker (no relation) discusses the paucity of lefthanded starting pitchers in the American League East. At present, there are only four, or 16 percent of the 25 men charged with the task of making first pitches in the division. This is clearly not the place to be for the righthanded batter in a strict platoon who wants to get some action.

Randy Johnson
The Angels could be the team that eventually acquires Randy Johnson.
The National League Central is also bereft of southpaw openers. Actually, with an extra team and the same count of lefties -- four -- they have fewer per capita than even the AL East. Three whole teams -- Cincinnati, St. Louis and Chicago -- are projecting to begin the season without a lefthander in their rotations. (Note: all counts use the projected lineups on the team pages of ESPN.com and are, of course, subject to change.) The Astros, with free agent Andy Pettitte and the Pirates, with Oliver Perez have one each. Milwaukee leads the division two: Doug "High Pitch Count" Davis and Chris Capuano.

"There's only a handful of really good ones. It's not like they're floating around out there," Boston manager Terry Francona told Baker in explaining why the Red Sox don't have one. Insightfully, he added, "I'd rather have a guy that can get batters out rather than have a left-hander just to have a left-hander."


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Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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